The word “budget” can be such a scary word for some. Yet, the month of December can also be tough on our wallets. Just like living a healthier life physically, living a healthy life financially is cannot be underestimated. Financial stress can be debilitating. There are also small changes one can make to have an overall healthier life, particularly when it comes to finances.

Here are few small changes to make that will pay off in the long run.

Coffee and Take Out Solutions

I would never dare suggest you go without the caffeine that gets you through the day. But if you are a Starbucks fanatic or you love your take out, there is a way to control what you spend. When it comes to coffee for example, decide how much you are willing to spend, or can afford to spend a month. Then when you are at your favorite coffee shop buy a gift-card. Use that for anything you purchase.

By doing this, you are more aware of exactly how much you spending (those drinks add up!) and also exerting some self-control without actually having to work at it. You can do the same thing at your go-to take out restaurants or easy takeout services like GrubHub.

Save for the Holidays All Year

Who hasn’t opened December’s credit card statement and gulped at the balance? Besides the normal amount your household saves per month, consider the amount you typically spend on Christmas and divide it by 12. That amount of money is a lot more palatable divided by 12 so set that aside each month. When December comes, you are prepared.

You can also do this with other annual fees: whether it be for parking if you live in the city, rental insurance, or even the fee for renewing you license plate. If you total the household’s annual fees in January, divide it, and put it away each month, it will sting less when the bills are due.

Cash versus Cash Rewards

Some esteemed financial planners will tell you to pay cash for everything. For example, Dave Ramsey, who has a very detailed program, suggests creating envelopes for different things: grocery shopping, fun money, etc. Each month those envelopes are filled with cash. This does two things. First, you stay on budget. Secondly, it’s a fact that when we pay with cash we are much more aware of our purchases. Sometimes the slide of the credit card makes it too easy.

For some, living a cash only lifestyle isn’t possible. Make sure that the credit cards you do use have rewards specific to your household needs: whether it is cash back or travel rewards. If, for example, you are in a position to pay your credit card off in full every month, a card with cash back is a great way to save money overall.

Emergency Funds

You never know what is going to happen. Unfortunately, we have to be prepared for the unexpected home repair or medical costs. At whatever pace that is possible for you, save for an emergency fund. Beyond that, there are other benefits. That money is out of sight and out of mind so it keeps you spending less. Meanwhile, you don’t have to stress over the realities of life. If the roof starts to leak, you are already covered. Your peace of mind is priceless actually.

Take an Inventory

Clean out your closets. Purge your home. More often than not, you will be surprised by what you do have. Sometimes it can even feel as if you went shopping. Meanwhile, you are aware of what you actually need and not just what you want. When you do make a purchase, there is no need to feel guilty because you know there is an actual need for it.

Money can always be a touchy subject but communication is key. These are just a few of many tips to help you in the long run without making you feel as if you have to change your entire life. Meanwhile, there are people like Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey (as well as others) with programs people have great success with if you are looking for something more intensive.

Nina Biagini

NB Creative, Inc.

PlumbTalk Content Manager

[email protected]

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